Roy Brown Awaits Exoneration in NY
New Mexico's Landmark Reform Bill
Oklahoma Judge to Review Death Row Case
Why I Give: A Donor Profile
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A hearing in early March may bring the true freedom that Roy Brown has imagined for 15 years. Brown was released in January in Cayuga County, New York, after DNA testing proved his innocence. The conviction has been vacated but charges are still pending, and a hearing on March 5 could determine whether Brown will be fully exonerated.
In 2003, Brown learned that another man, Barry Bench, appeared to have a motive and may have committed the murder. Brown wrote to Bench asking him to set the record straight, but Bench committed suicide days later, without leaving a note. Then, last year, DNA tests from the crime scene matched Bench's profile, proving that he was the killer. Read more about Brown's case.
Eyewitness misidentification is the leading cause of wrongful conviction. A bill that would reform police lineups and reduce eyewitness misidentifications passed the New Mexico Senate last week and now moves to the state House of Representatives. The bill would require police departments statewide to use lineup methods proven to reduce the number of false identifications. Read more about these reforms.
A capital case tainted by forensic science fraud will be considered by an Oklahoma judge on Friday, February 16, as a team of attorneys including the Innocence Project's Colin Starger argue that murder charges against Curtis McCarty should be dropped because the biological evidence that could have proved innocence has been destroyed. McCarty, who has proclaimed his innocence since his arrest more than 20 years ago, has already had his death sentence overturned twice. He is currently awaiting a third trial. In McCarty's first two trials, notorious lab analyst Joyce Gilchrist falsely testified that hairs and other biological evidence proved that McCarty could have been the killer. Now the state wants to try McCarty a third time, despite lost hair evidence and DNA results that show another man's involvement in the crime. Read more in the Innocence Blog
While practicing commercial law in New York City for over 40 years, I always harbored a latent interest in criminal law as a carryover from my early days as an Assistant Attorney General. My interest was rekindled when a friend suggested that I consider doing volunteer work for the Innocence Project.
I helped attorney Nina Morrison with research on a few of her cases, and one resulted in an exoneration. I was in court on the day that John Restivo and John Kogut were exonerated. One need only read the stream of news accounts of exonerations to appreciate and admire the work of the Innocence Project and all that it accomplishes. But witnessing in person a wrongly convicted prisoner being released into the arms of his family is an experience that will never be forgotten, and reinforces the profound importance of the work of the Innocence Project. That is why I give.
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